How to Build a Hay Feeder With a Rain Cover

Hay feeders reduce waste.
Hay feeders reduce waste. (Image: fieno image by aletermi from

Building a hay feeder with a rain cover reduces hay spoilage and waste and gives livestock a dry place to consume roughage. A covered hay feeder designed by the University of Tennessee holds two, 7-foot in diameter round bales, and there is a gate at one end to allow loading the feeder with a tractor. This feeder is made of metal, so it will last for a long time. Building a metal feeder requires welding expertise and access to an acetylene cutting torch and an arc welder.

Things You'll Need

  • Acetylene cutting torch
  • Arc welder
  • 80 feet of 2 inch diameter pipe
  • 200 feet of 1 1/2 inch by 14 gauge square steel tubing
  • Folding rule
  • Piece of chalk
  • 20 gauge sheet metal
  • 2 inch wide by 3/16 inch thick metal
  • Two 2 inch by 4 inch by 14 feet lumber
  • Three 2 inch by 4 inch by 8 feet lumber
  • Six joist hangers
  • One 2 inch by 6 inch by 14 feet lumber
  • 1/2 inch diameter bar
  • 16 penny nails
  • 10 foot sheets of corrugated metal roofing
  • 8 inches of 2 1/2 inch diameter pipe
  • 3/4 inch diameter pipe
  • Carriage bolts

Build the Frame

Cut two pieces of 2-inch diameter pipe 12 feet long for the runners. If the feeder is to be used where the ground becomes soft and muddy, use 4-inch pipe for the runners.

Cut approximately 9 inches of pipe from both ends of each runner and reconnect them at a 45-degree angle. Weld a 2-inch diameter pipe, 6-foot long, to the top of each angle to serve as the vertical pieces of the frame.

Manufacture four towing eyes from the 1/2-inch diameter steel bar by bending it into the shape of a pipe clamp. Weld a towing eye to the outside of each vertical pipe just above the bend. The runners and towing eyes will allow the feeder to be moved when empty.

Weld an 8-foot long, 2-inch diameter pipe across the top of the vertical pieces and a second pipe 6 inches above the ground on the feeder end opposite of where the gate will be hung. Cut 30-degree angles in the ends of the pipes at the top of the feeder and weld the connections at these angles.

Cut two pieces of 2-1/2 inch diameter pipe 2 inches long and two pieces 3-inches long. Slide a 2-inch piece over the pipe on which the gate will be hung. Next slip a 3-inch, a 2-inch and the second 3-inch piece over the pipe on which the gate will be hung in that order. Weld a 8-foot long, 2-inch diameter pipe across the top of the vertical pieces and 12-foot lengths of 2-inch pipe along the top of the feeder sides.

Attach 1-1/2 inch by 14-gauge square steel tubing to each side of the feeder 1 foot, 8 inches from the bottom of the runner and 2 feet, 6 inches from the top of the bottom piece of tubing. Weld square tubing across the feeder end at 1 foot, 2 inches above the pipe and 2 feet, 6 inches above the bottom tubing.

Measure 3 inches from the vertical pipe along the bottom tubing on both of the feeder's sides. Mark the spot with chalk and then measure 18 inches along the top tubing and make a mark. Cut tubing at 26 1/2 degree angles with the long side measuring 33 1/2 inches in length. Weld tubing between the two marks. Repeat the process on the other end, but measure 3 inches along the top and 18 inches along the bottom.

Weld additional tubing along the two sides of the feeder 13 inches apart and at the same angle and length as the end pieces. Weld two horizontal braces between the tubing and pipe at each end of the feeder side. Equally split the vertical distance in thirds with the braces.

Install angle pieces and horizontal braces on the closed end. On the feeder sides, measure 6 feet from the corners and weld vertical tubing braces between the top horizontal tubing and the top pipe at the middle of the feeder sides and between the two bottom pieces of tubing. Weld sheet metal onto the two bottom horizontal pieces of tubing on the two sides and the closed end of the feeder.

Build the Roof

Fabricate four 90-degree hanging brackets from 3/16-inch thick steel. Drill a 1/4-inch hole in one leg of each bracket. Weld a bracket to the vertical pipe on each corner of the feeder in a position to support a 2-by-4 board, 14 feet long, on the sides of the feeder adjacent to the horizontal pipe. Drill 1/4-inch holes 1 foot from the 2-by-4 ends and mount the boards to the brackets with 1/4-inch-by-2 1/2-inch carriage bolts.

Install 2-by-4 by 8 feet wooden rafters across the ends and middle of the feeder attaching them to the 2- by-4s on the sides with joist hangers. Toe nail a 2-by-6 by 14 foot board to the rafters, positioning it down the middle of the feeder leaving one foot overhang at each end.

Cover the roof with corrugated metal roofing leaving one foot overhang on all sides of the feeder.

Build the gate

Build a gate to match the other end of the feeder except make it 1-1/2 inches shorter in length to allow for the hinges and latch. Weld a 90-degree bracket on the bottom of the gate end opposite the hinges. Mount a sturdy wheel to the bracket with a carriage bolt. This wheel will keep the gate from sagging and make it easier to open and close.

Determine the position of the gate hinges and weld the 2 1/2-inch diameter by 2-inch long pipe to the 2- inch diameter pipe. The gate hinges will sit on these two pieces of pipe. Weld a 3/4 inch diameter pipe, 3 inches long, to the 2-1/2 inch diameter by 3-inches long pipe. Then weld the gate to the other side of the 3/4 inch pipe and the gate hinges are completed.

Determine the position of the gate latch and weld a 3/4-inch diameter by 3 inches long pipe to the end of the gate. Close the gate and mark a position on the gate post 1/2 inch below the latch. Open the gate and weld a 3/4 inch diameter by 3 inches to the gate post with the top edge of the pipe on the mark.

Bend a 1/2-inch steel rod into a 90-degree angle. This rod dropped through the two pieces of 3/4 inch pipe latches the gate.

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